Maingear F131 Review: A $10,000 Marvel of Art and Design

Just because the Maingear F131 is a gaming desktop, that doesn't mean it came just to play games with the competition. On the contrary, the bespoke king is bringing out the big guns, including an Intel Core i9 processor, a pair of Nvidia GTX 1080 Tis and some mesmerizing Chameleon paint.

In addition to the incredible specs, the F131 sports Maingear's new proprietary Apex cooling system, which is a marvel of form and function. But all of that face-melting awesome doesn't come cheap. Configured at $9,857, the F131 is a definite fantasy machine for all but those with the deepest of pockets.

Design

Maingear painted with all the colors of the wind and then some. My configuration of the F131 was lovingly coated in Chameleon-purple paint. That meant that, depending on the angle, the full tower looked purple, blue, green or copper. It's truly a sight to behold, so much so that Maingear puts that glorious glossy, color-changing finish at center stage, with little to no embellishment.

And while the Chameleon paint is captivating, it's nothing compared to the desktop's interior. Behind a tempered-glass panel held in place by four black knobs lies a visual cacophony of tubes, fans, liquid, metal and components brought together to deliver serious power and a whole lotta wow factor.

Maingear's trademark metal hard-line tubing is on display, accentuated by the neon yellow liquid gently flowing through the system, which keeps the processor and graphics cards nice and cool. In addition to the white light at the top of the system, the Trident Z G.Skill RGB Series RAM glows merrily, entrancing viewers with its alluring patterns. Maingear's geometric emblem sits prominently in the top front of the system. The top and left side of the F131 have generous vents to ensure a steady system of air is flowing to keep things cool.

Although it looks like a piece of fantastical modern art, the F131 is still ultimately a gaming machine. That means it has plenty of ports, starting with the four USB 4.1 Type A ports, the single USB Type-C port, and jacks for a headphone and microphone; these sit all in a row below the power button toward the front left side of the system.

Watching that neon green liquid moving through the F131's reservoir is an experience both mesmerizing and zen, especially with the myriad of LED lights illuminating the fluid.

The back hosts even more ports, many accentuated in bright red, like the five USB 3.1 ports, a pair of USB 2.0 ports, a USB Type-C port and two Ethernet jacks; you'll also find inputs for a microphone and S/PDIF, along with a plethora of jacks to hook up a variety of speakers. Where the GPU is seated, you'll find three DisplayPorts and an HDMI, and in the bottom-right corner sits the power adapter.

A Cooling System Unlike Any Other

I've seen all manner of cooling systems when it comes to desktops, and Maingear's take on this necessary component is both efficient and fun-looking. The company's proprietary Apex ICS (Integrated Cooling System) takes Maingear's open-loop cooling solution and doubles your pleasure with a parallel-loop system.

Constructed from a single block of acrylic, the Apex system utilizes two pumps, a temperature sensor and a flow meter in conjunction with a large 420-millimeter radiator, three fans and Maingear's tubing. All that works to move the cooling liquid to the CPU and dual GPUs quickly and quietly.

Because of all that clever, yet methodical engineering, Apex ICS doesn't monopolize a ton of space in the chassis. And, aesthetically, watching that neon green liquid moving through the reservoir is an experience both mesmerizing and zen, especially with the myriad of LED lights illuminating the fluid.

In case you need to change the liquid, Maingear has included a bottom-mounted drain with pressure-release valves and fill tubes at the top.

Gaming, Graphics and VR

Ahh, I love the smell of dual Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti GPUs in SLI configuration (with 11GB of VRAM each) in the morning. It's like a more-awesome version of the Wonder Twins. When I booted up The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, I dispatched several wraiths using a combination of deft attacks and dodges, and it looked glorious.

On Ultra settings at 3840 x 2160 (4K), the F131 easily averaged 73 frames per second, complete with silky-smooth hair effects, so I could fully appreciate Geralt's ash-white locks.

The F131 easily averaged 73 frames per second on The Witcher 3 at Ultra settings in 4K, complete with silky-smooth hair effects so I could fully appreciate Geralt's ash-white locks.

The system just tore through all of our gaming tests. On Rise of the Tomb Raider on Very High at 1920 x 1080, the F131 produced 125 fps, shattering the 72-fps average. The Millennium, with its own pair of 1080 Tis, came in a distant second, at 92 fps. The Area 51's two GTX 1080 GPUs weren't too far behind, achieving 83 fps.

The F131 continued to chug along after I cranked it up to 4K, reaching a frame rate of 56 fps, which passes the 37-fps gaming desktop average and the 38 fps put up by the Area 51. The Millennium hit 51 fps.

During the 1080p Grand Theft Auto V benchmark, the F131 crushed the competition, with a 170-fps frame rate. The Millennium came the closest to matching the Maingear, at 142 fps, while the Area 51 just topped the 86-fps average, with 99 fps.

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The F131 stumbled a bit when we switched to 4K, dropping to 67 fps, which was enough to beat the 61-fps average and Area 51's mark of 50. The Millennium came out as the ultimate winner, with 72 fps.

When we ran the Hitman test, the F131 delivered 102 fps, cruising past the 90-fps average as well as the rates from the Millennium (98 fps) and Area 51 (75 fps).

You can attach all manner of VR setups to the F131, as we saw when the system maxed out the SteamVR performance test with a score of 11, matching its competitors and topping the 9.7 category average.

Overall Performance

Even though I want to do nothing but game on the F131, some people might actually want to get some work done. For those industrious folks, Maingear has outfitted the tower with a 2.6-GHz Intel Core i9-7980XE processor with 32GB of RAM.

Multitasking was an absolute dream on this rig. I had 40 Google Chrome tabs open, one of which was streaming an episode of Disenchantment on Netflix. A couple of the others had Twitch streams running, while still others ran Slack and TweetDeck. Everything ran smoothly, despite a full-system scan running in the background and Witcher 3 playing in a separate window.

The desktop also kicked ass on our synthetic performance tests, including Geekbench 4, on which the MainGear scored an impressive 32.443, handily defeating the 19,069 gaming desktop average. The Area 51's 2.6-GHz Core i9-7980XE CPU came the closest to matching the F131, reaching 29,780. The Millennium's 3.7-GHz Intel Core i7-8700K CPU pulled down a score of 21,301.

The F131 took only 11 seconds to pair up 65,000 names and addresses on our Excel productivity test. That's significantly faster than the 0:37 average and the Area 51's time of 0:16.

During the File Transfer test, the F131's 1TB NVMe M.2 PCIe SSD (and a 6TB and 7,200-rpm hard drive) duplicated 4.97GB of multimedia files in 8 seconds, for a transfer rate of 635 megabytes per second. That matches showings from the Millennium (500GB SSD, 3TB HDD) and the Area 51 (1TB SSD, 2TB HDD) and roasts the 382.7-MBps average.

Configurations

Only the deep-pocketed need apply. I reviewed a $9,857 configuration of the Maingear F131. The full tower is packed with power, including a 2.6-GHz Intel Core i9-7980X processor with 32GB of RAM, a 1TB NVMe M.2 PCIe SSD with a 6TB and 7,200-rpm hard drive, and two Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti GPUs in SLI configuration with 11GB of VRAM. You also get that gorgeous Chameleon-painted chassis, Maingear's Apex ICS, custom-colored coolant and shimmering Tridentz RAM, and a whole bunch of other goodies.

The base Superstock version of the F131 costs $5,064 and has an MSI X299M Gaming Pro Carbon Motherboard, a 3.5-GHz Intel Core i7-7800X processor with 16GB of RAM, a 1TB and 7,200-rpm hard drive, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU with the Apex system, clear coolant, and RGB lighting.

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Still a bit too rich for your blood? Then, maybe consider the $1,599 Stock version, which has an MSI B350M Mortar motherboard, a 3.1-GHz AMD Ryzen 3 1200 CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 1TB and 7,200-rpm hard drive, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU. Keep in mind that this configuration lacks the Apex system and few other bells and whistles. If you want to trick it out,

Bottom Line

It's not every day I review a desktop that costs almost $10,000. But when I do, it's gotta be a Maingear. From its ultra-luxe, head-turning Chameleon paint to its supercharged components, including a Core i9 CPU and two GTX 1080Ti GPUs, this machine reeks of opulence.

And while the color-shifting, RGB rave-in-a-box is indeed a showpiece, it's also a celebration of form and function by way of Maingear's Apex ICS. This keeps your components cool and looks damned good doing it.

But let's face it: Most of us won't ever be able to afford a $9,857 desktop. We reviewed the Origin PC Millennium at $4,358, and that machine isn't nearly as flashy as the F131, but it can deliver similar processing and graphics power for nearly half the price. Or, you can make a few compromises and skip some bells and whistles on the F131; this can still yield a powerful — but not as pretty — system.

Credit: Tom's Guide

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  • farazmasood2
    If you talk about price to performance ratio, then it isn't worth it.